A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Content Gathering for Curation and Inspiration

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

As promised in one of my posts last week, here’s an intro to some ideas and tools for gathering content.

There are two reasons you should be actively searching the web for content: curation opportunities and inspiration.

Curation Opportunities
Particularly when you’re getting started, creating new content from scratch can be daunting. Even when you’re established, sometimes the time crunch wins and you need to knock out something in less time than you’d like. That’s no excuse for putting out low quality content. Finding content that is of interest to your audience and commenting on it not only provides them with valuable information, but can showcase your expertise without overtly selling. Having great content ready to comment on is key to make the process efficient.

Inspiration Opportunities
Gathering content can also provide you with inspiration for creating your own. Perhaps you notice a trend around a particular topic, or see a division developing between different camps on a subject. You can don your reporters cap and provide coverage to your audience. Actually, it’s a columnist’s cap rather than a reporter’s, since you’ll be providing commentary. That’s where the real value is for both your audience, who gets your insights, and you, since you once again get to showcase your expertise.

So how exactly do you go about gathering all this great content? Well, you could go out and actively search for content on the web every day, but that’s time consuming and can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Much easier is putting an army of zombies of robots to work for you.

Well, more robots than zombies. Things like Google Alerts and RSS feeds are a great way to have content land in your inbox on a daily basis. Here’s an introduction to a few tools you can use.

Google Alerts
A great tool from Google, free as usual, that lets you define a keyword term and other parameters and delivers to you via email links to newly published content related to your keyword term.

Twitter Search
Particularly good for topical information, you can see what’s hot right now. There are a variety of Twitter search and monitoring tools you can also use.

RSS Feeds
One of my favorites. It’s easy to find great blogs about topics of interest. What’s hard is getting yourself back to them when they publish new information. RSS readers bring that content to you and typically you can categorize and organize it as you’d like. Google Reader is my reader of choice, but there are many others.

Email Newsletter Subscriptions
So last century, but still so valuable. Be sure to set up a separate email account or filter of some kind to keep the deluge from getting out of control, and only subscribe to reputable newsletters. Some newsletters can also be subscribed to via RSS.

I’ve purposely not listed all the tool options here – summarizing and evaluating each would create for a much longer post – but with the info above you can do some searching of your own and find great tools that will get you started on the content gathering trail.

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